Burundi Leadership Training Program Intro Organizing principles

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1 Burundi Leadership Training Program Implemented by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars with support from the World Bank s Post-Conflict Fund, UK s Department for International Development, the European Community and USAID s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) Intro Since its first training workshop in 2003, the Burundi Leadership Training Program (BLTP) has worked to transform the once-fragile peace and relationships between insular leaders into strong networks of leadership partners. The BLTP rebuilds participants communication and negotiating skills and reestablishes trust through simulations and interactive experiences. The ultimate goal is to understand that collaboration is more effective than competition to advance their own interests. Cooperation amongst diverse leaders and populations is fundamental to peace- and democracy-building. While multiparty representation can promote effective governance, post-conflict and crisis situations often require that conflicting parties first develop a sense of nationhood that transcends their mutual distrust. To build a sustainable network of Burundian leaders capable of working across ethnic and political lines, BLTP organized a series of workshops in Ngozi in northern Burundi. After the initial six-day leadership retreat, selected leader-participants met again every two or three months over a period of eighteen months. Each workshop group initially consisted of leaders, composed of a roughly equal proportion of political and/or military leaders and members of the civil society. Six of seven rebel groups were represented, with the seventh willing to participate in future events; gender and ethnic balance were ensured as well. Training these dissimilar actors to work together, the workshops focused on interest-based negotiations, communications, mediation, conflict analysis, strategic planning, and management of organizational change. By reinforcing these essential leadership skills, BLTP facilitated leaders implementation of the peace process, not only generating momentum for security sector reform but enabling political leaders to collaborate to ensure orderly national elections. Organizing principles In order to maximize the impact of the BLTP, organizers followed several guidelines when both organizing and implementing their program. These principles serve as a how to guide for designing effective leadership training programs. Securing Burundian support The BLTP was careful to gain the support and buy-in of all sectors of Burundian society. During the planning phase, over 100 consultative meetings were held with leaders from government, civil society, military, and rebel groups. The project managers were thus able to glean insights and obtain endorsements from across the societal spectra. Six out of the seven rebel groups participated, while the last one indicated willingness to participate in the future. In addition, stakeholders support was also reinforced by the presence of two well-respected Burundians on the project management team. These elites, both public servants with extensive experience, were regarded as honest and

2 trusted by Burundians across ethnic divides and therefore held significant political influence with all factional leaders. With input from the many consultative meetings as well as the guidance of these two esteemed Burundian nationals, the BLTP was able to gain legitimacy from its inception. Selecting leaders strategically Given strong ethnic and political divisions and a polarized society, BLTP organizers were careful to select leaders from all societal sectors. To do so, they had stakeholders in the peace process nominate 35 leaders with the influence and/or position to shape Burundi s future. Each stakeholder s submissions were treated confidentially and were used as important guides as to who Burundians themselves believed to be best capable of leading the country through the transitional peacebuilding process. From their combined lists, organizers selected 50 political leaders (individuals in the government and political parties, the Army, and all rebel organizations) and 50 civil society leaders (churches, women s organizations, academia, media, youth, labor unions and the business community.) They ensured balanced representation of leaders across political, ethnic, sectoral, and gender divides. Framing participants expectations When inviting leader-participants, the BLTP was careful to emphasize the participants selection on the basis of their influence and stature, the leaders invitation to participate in their personal capacities, and the training workshops technical nature. These three factors imbued participants with a sense of responsibility, freedom from having to represent their organizations, and focus on strengthening skills in a depoliticized project rather than a negotiating forum. Securing a regional buy-in Just as they had met with diverse national and subnational actors in Burundi, so the BLTP organizers also consulted with several regional leaders. These meetings allowed influential regional actors to not only share their own analyses of the evolving peace process dynamics but also understand the objectives of the BLTP. Recognizing that the program did not seek to be an alternative negotiating forum but rather, an opportunity to improve Burundians capacity for collaboration, representatives from Tanzania, Uganda, and South Africa gave the BLTP their full support. The BLTP should be seen as complementary to rather than a diversion from the peacebuilding efforts already in progress. Ensuring programme sustainability Project managers emphasized that the program was designed to develop a sustainable network of Burundian leaders and would therefore require participants presence at an eighteen-month series of continuous workshops rather than just one or two self-selected sessions. They stressed this point to donors as well, obtaining funding from the World Bank s Post Conflict Fund for the entire 18-month period. BLTP organizers also received assurances of additional funding from other sources of future support. Ensuring concrete en-results in Burundi

3 In order to link newly-reinforced skills to practical governance collaboration, leaderparticipants used them to address joint tasks such as DDR (Demobilization, Disarmament, and Reintegration) of armed groups, writing an election Code of Conduct for political parties, and the integration of the new national army and police command structures.. Cooperation in these exercises made clear that peacebuilding is not a zerosum game but that instead, all stakeholders can benefit from working together. Applying each of these six how to strategies, the BLTP created an environment in which Burundian leaders learned to work together to rebuild their own government. Interactive activities and simulations allowed participants to practice communication, negotiation, and conflict resolution skills, enhancing their ability to interact with others of different or even opposing political interests. Arguably the most influential and paradigmatic of these exercises was an activity known as SIMSOC, a simulated society exercise that allowed leaders to rebuild society without putting their own (Burundian) interests at stake. When implementing BLTP program exercises, organizers met resistance from leaders who considered them outsiders to the conflict. To address this situation, trainers clearly communicated their sources of funding and affiliations. They also learned, from experience, that they should emphasize whatever components of their identities could contribute to the success of the training process. Having a deep understanding of the background culture, conflict, and issues also gained legitimacy for the group. Finally, they approached the training program from a what do the participants want from us attitude rather than a what can we teach them mindset. This allowed them to place greater value on participants inputs rather on any pre-determined answers to conflictresolution. Creating an inclusive environment, demonstrating respect for participants strengths, and exhibiting willingness to cooperate all facilitated the BLTP. SIMSOC In the SIMSOC exercise, leader-participants gain insight into dynamics of social and political conflict as well as the underlying complexities of governance. The society consists of four regions: Green, Yellow, Blue, and Red, listed in order of decreasing resource distribution. Regions are assigned different industries and/or political parties that represent their interests. Other conditions of the simulation include extreme inequality between individuals and groups, a lack of subsistence for individuals in the poor region, major communication barriers between regions, a lack of shared experience and expectations and a diversity of personal goals. To combat these difficulties, leaderparticipants must figure out how to survive as individuals, as regions, and as an overarching society. A politically, ethnically, and socially balanced group of participants is assigned to each region. Therefore, participants must work across ethnic and political divides as they complete this exercise. In their assigned roles, they can invest in industry, public welfare programmes, create police forces, or even riot. Decisions made in the aggregate

4 determine the national indicators and level of income available to society s basic institutions. Acting on behalf of their regional interests, leader-participants made decisions that might not necessarily reflect choices they make in their real-life leadership positions. However, they continue to act on behalf of regional interests, reinforcing socioeconomic cleavages even in the simulated society. The impoverished Red region typically becomes the most cohesive, while the relatively well-endowed Green, Blue, and Yellow regions focus more on generation of wealth than solving the problems (e.g., high unemployment and death rates) plaguing the Red region. The SIMSOC, in both its set-up and results, presented a fairly representative portrayal of society. Drawing lessons learned from this activity, leader-participants discussed key issues such as the importance of inclusive decision-making processes in building trust and resolving conflict, the impact of uneven resource distribution on inter-group perceptions and conflict, the tendency to focus on parochial interests at the expense of the broader societal cohesiveness, and the fact that messages are not always received as intended either due to lack of clarity or differences in perception and experience. The SIMSOC experience and lessons learned reinforced leader-participants collaboration, negotiation, and other leadership skills, strengthening their ability to better understand and communicate with not just their own co-ethnics and/or constituents but with leaders of divergent viewpoint as well. Follow-up helped clearly identify the mission and objectives of the training program while linking it to real-world interactions. Further efforts should also address how trained leaders can interact with those who have not participated in the intensive process. Conclusion Through strategic planning and carefully designed interactive exercises, the BLTP demonstrates that reinforcing the skills of cooperation can prove to be at least as effective at rebuilding functional governance institutions as simply instituting a multiparty system. By gaining national support, choosing a balanced group of influential leaders, ensuring their participation as individuals rather than organizational representatives, cooperating with regional actors, ensuring sufficient funding, and linking exercises to real-world cooperative initiatives, the program gained legitimacy to both the national and international community. Carefully designed simulation activities and the efforts of the trainers to demonstrate neutrality and respect for national leaders also led to the success of the program. Within six months of the initial workshop, military and rebel leader-participants requested a separate series of training workshops for the army and rebel military commanders to prepare for the upcoming ceasefire. Soon after, the BLTP extended to other groups as well. It has extended beyond the political, military, and civil society elites trained in the original session, transforming leadership at all levels. Twenty Burundian master trainers, in fact, have trained over four thousand of these local leaders, facilitating the re-integration of refugees, internally displaced persons, and excombatants as well as meeting other post-conflict needs.

5 The how to strategies that guided the Burundian Leadership Training Program suggest that improved cooperation and leadership skills can not only influence peace negotiations at the leadership level but transform societal cohesion as well. Efforts to build leadership capacity, whether by following these guidelines or other learning from other successful case studies, can potentially bring about post-conflict stability and sustainable development. Article adapted from: Petrosky, Georgina, ed Leadership and Building State Capacity: Combining the Skills of Diplomats and Trainers. Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Wolpe, Howard, et al Rebuilding Peace and State Capacity in War-torn Burundi. The Round Table, Vol. 93, No. 375 (July), p Wolpe, Howard, and Steve McDonald Democracy and Peace-building: Re-thinking the Conventional Wisdom. The Round Table, Vol. 97, No. 394 (February), p Training Leaders for Peace. Journal of Democracy, Vol. 17, No. 1 (January), p

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